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December 1, 2016

When you should make staff take a holiday

Published: 1 December 2016 

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Ideally, employees would be able to take holidays all year round and still be paid. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. However, this doesn’t mean employees should be working every day every year. With the holidays fast approaching, it’s a good time to consider your staff and know when you should make them take a holiday.

Here are some signs that will let you know your staff need a break:




We are all human. That staff member that always turns up for work and does overtime will eventually burnout. Overworked employees will be less motivated, easily distracted and less productive. Overwork can cause stress, impaired sleep, depression, impaired memory and heart disease. The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health even found people that work long hours are 12% more likely to become heavy drinkers.

Overworking does not lead to more output. Boston University’s professor Erin Reid undertook a study of consultants and found managers could not tell the difference between employees who actually worked 80 hours a week, and those who pretended to.

Increased sick leave

When we’re overworked, we are going to get sick. More than a third of Australians say they are so overwhelmed with work they will take a sick day One in 10 have called in sick from a holiday destination. It can be costly for a business to have its staff constantly on sick leave.

Working holiday

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>When employees do take a holiday, sometimes it’s not really a holiday. Employees holidays may not be that relaxing retreat they really need. Often employees will pick up the phone or laptop while on holidays and be working. Got a plane trip? Why not just do a few hours of work? Sometimes it’s best to unplug and leave the work until you get back.

Accrued too much leave

Some people just don’t like taking holidays, and prefer working. In 2015, the Fair Work Commission ruled workers could be asked to take enforced holiday leave if they have accrued more than eight weeks. However, if both parties agree, the employee can also cash out two weeks of holiday pay per year.

Here are some tips to follow to make sure you’re not running an overworked office:

Lead by example

We all know that boss who takes a day off, but then still replies to every email. Sometimes it’s best to lead by example. Turn off the phone and laptop, and trust someone will take care of the work. Be a good boss and show employees how to take a holiday.

Encourage open communication

Stressed, overworked employees may feel too much pressure from work to call in sick, especially for a mental health day. Let employees know that they can talk to you about work pressures, mental health issues, and the need to take holidays. There’s nothing worse than stressed, overworked employees who feel like they can never take time off because they can’t talk to the boss.

Focus on the people, not the numbers


For some businesses, it’s all about the numbers. What profits do you make, how many conversions have we had, is there increased traffic to our website, how much are we spending on keywords. The list goes on. Take a step back and focus on more than just profit and numbers. Focus on the workers too. After all, they are the ones who will help the business to be a success.


Be realistic when assigning tasks. Is an employee already stretched to their limits? Don’t assign them more work. Make sure your employees are challenged, but not completely overworked.

Keep Reasonable Working Hours

If you’re in Silicon Valley, you’ll see programmers wearing t-shirts that proudly state “90 Hours a Week and Loving It.” While programmers might love working overtime, not everyone should be expected to work overtime. In Australia, employees are only expected to work 38 hours per week, if they are a full-time employee. You can request additional hours if they are reasonable.

So workers might not be able to take all day, every day off and be at the beach. But they also shouldn’t be overworked. These tips should help you to recognize when your staff need a holiday, and how to ensure your employees don’t end up overworked.

Ben Maden

Read more posts by Ben

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